286

Ted Reichman: My Ears Are Bent

By

Sign in to view read count
Composer/accordionist Ted Reichman is an integral part of the New York musical community, whether he's leading the Ted Reichman Emigré Band or playing as sideman in John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet. For My Ears Are Bent, Reichman takes the accordion right out of the picture. Instead, he employs pump organ, percussion, bass, guitar and piano (plenty of piano) to create a set of austere, anxious pieces that are more instrumental mood-rock than outright improv.

Reichman is accompanied by electric guitarist Mary Halvorson (on some of the tracks) and drummer John Hollenbeck (whose playing is more prominent and whose contributions to the recording are substantial). The opener, "Every Man to His Taste, feels like a sweetly prayerful invocation as Reichman's piano repeats a mantra-like melodic phrase, his pipe organ humming alongside as Hollenbeck's unerring snare gently drives the band forward. This is rock music, pure and simple. Its layering of a repeated musical phrase and Halverson's gloriously untechnical guitar lines very much bring to mind the intelligent pop optimism of the long-disbanded Feelies or the still-vital Yo La Tengo—although Hollenbeck's crisp, perfect time will never be mistaken for that of Yo La Tengo drummer Georgia Hubley.

"Every Man to His Own Taste, however, is something of a red herring, because in its wake, the album gets very dark. What follows are essentially piano/percussion duets whose anxious, minor-key piano melodies, layered, clanking percussion and close, wet ambience make for some unsettling listening. An examination of the song titles ("Nun, "It Is Almost Sacred, "Come to Jesus, "Peace Father ) and an even-casual hearing of their creepy, spookhouse piano ostinati make it difficult to avoid the conclusion that Reichman is taking a decidedly stark and ungauzy look back at an unpleasantly old-school Catholic upbringing.

"Come to Jesus shares the same descending melody as "Peace Father, and to some extent, they're different sides of the same haunted-attic environment. "I Know Nothing About It follows dissonant, panic-attack pianos with a tempo-less middle section of chiming percussion, subdued electric guitar skronk (brittle and grinding, but quiet) and droning organ, before a final in-tempo section where Hollenbeck's explosive kick and snare become downright dub-inflected. It's very good, and more cohesive than the above description would suggest.

The title track that ends the disc breaks the tension, at least partially—like "Every Man to His Own Taste, it's a slow-layered alt-rock tune that repeats and builds a simple melodic phrase over Hollenbeck's flawless kit work. It's just a shade short of anthemic, yet even the sighing vocal "ooooohs that join in during the last two minutes can't quite dispel the thorniness of the preceding pieces. You won't hear another recording like My Ears Are Bent. It's not quite the Brooklyn improv scene's version of The Wall, but in its unflinchingly anti-nostalgic and claustrophobic mood, it's close.

Track Listing: Every Man To His Taste; Peace Father; I Know Nothing About It; Nun; It Is Almost Sacred; Come to Jesus; My Ears Are Bent.

Personnel: Ted Reichman: piano, electronics, guitar, bass, percussion, pump organ; Mary Halvorson: electric guitar; John Hollenbeck: drums.

Title: My Ears Are Bent | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Skirl Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Steal Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Steal Your Heart
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "King Of Xhosa" CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "The Dreamer Is the Dream" CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "May I Introduce To You" CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.